En plein air

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Pretty happy with our spur-of-the-moment outdoor grilling station.

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Garlic and parsley pickles

A slight variation on the standard naturally fermented garlic sour pickle, this time with parsley instead of dill. I do really like parsley, so I’m curious to see how these turn out.

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Garlic and parsley pickles

  • 5% brine (50 g kosher salt per liter of water)
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 t black peppercorns
  • 1 t whole coriander seed
  • 1/2 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t crushed red pepper
  • handful flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 oak or grape leaves, washed
  • 6-7 pickling cukes, or however many you want to pickle

The easiest way to find out how much water you’ll need is to pack the cucumbers into the jar, then fill with cold water. Put a cold saucepan on your scale and zero it; empty the water from the pickle jar right into the saucepan, using that weight to calculate how much salt you’ll need (you know, slide that decimal to the left one place and half the number). This jar held 720 ml (g) of water, so I added 36 grams of salt. Add the garlic and spices, heat to dissolve, and let it cool completely. You can pickle cucumbers whole or cut, depending on your preference. I’ve read in a few places (Fermenter’s Club, Sandor Katz, and others) that grape or oak leaves help the pickles to stay crunchy because of the tannins in the leaf, so I washed and added a few oak leaves to the bottom of the jar. Pack the cucumbers and parsley into the jar, and cover completely with cooled brine. Weight the cucumbers down to keep them submerged. A small juice glass worked perfectly here for me.

Set in a cool place (cooler than 70 degrees) and let the lactic acid bacteria get to work. You can check the pH every few days to track their progress, or just smell and taste every so often. I’ll let these go about a week before sampling, and once they’re sour enough for your liking, you can then stow them in the fridge, which slows bacterial action down quite a bit.

For additional resources see:

[updated 5/28 with active links]

[update 6/4/13: after 5 days in a cool basement I put a lid on and moved them into the fridge. These are some of my favorite pickles I’ve made so far. Plenty of garlic, good and sour, nice hint of parsley, still crunchy. So it’s nice to know that this batch size and combination of flavors works for great pickles in about a week. Experiment away, and enjoy!]

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Ramp chimichurri

This came together pretty quickly: a handful of foraged ramps (bulbs and leaves), plus a few springs of fresh thyme and mint, finely chopped. I used a bit more olive oil than I would for a pesto, and added a generous splash or two of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper, and a shake of chili flakes. If I had a lemon I would have added some zest.

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Very happy with how this turned out. With a few steaks, pan-fried potatoes, sautéed spinach, and a glass of red wine, the boys and I had our own Friday night steakhouse dinner. Not a bad evening in!

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Goose Island Shepherd’s Pie

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It turns out that Goose Island Honker’s Ale makes for a pretty great shepherd’s pie.

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Slow lamb

Today was a terrific holiday, a full house with family, kids running everywhere, grandparents, aunts and uncles around, helping in the kitchen and with the kids, good food.

I slow-roasted a leg of lamb. VERY slow. Instead of a “7 hour leg” it was more of a 10-12 hour leg of lamb. I couldn’t do the 24 hours at 152 degrees that Alex and Aki recommend for lamb braises in Ideas In Food, nor did I want to do it at 325 for 5 hours. So we settled on 200ish for about 12 hours. 8 hours on Saturday at 200 (covered), and the last few hours this morning in between 150 and 200, with a final 30 minutes around 400 to baste and crisp up the skin.

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I seasoned it overnight (Friday) with smoked coriander and smoked kosher salt, which made the whole house smell like smoked lamb on Saturday afternoon. After the final roast this morning, I finished the sauce with 2 heads of roasted garlic, half a preserved lemon (freezer method also from Ideas in Food), and a handful of parsley. It made a delicious and rich simple sauce to pour over the lamb and potatoes for dinner.

Here’s the aftermath of the leg. (There was no time for a photo of the plated platter, when the kitchen was a bit chaotic.) Cheers!

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Smoke and Barley

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A handful of things into the smoker on this cold Saturday morning: pork rib and belly trim (for a batch of pork and beans, coming soon), kosher salt, coriander seeds, and 2 lb of barley from Eric to mix into the mash for a future batch of beer (smoked porter or scotch ale?).

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Meatball Pizza

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This pizza dough is based off of my mom’s recipe (2 cups of water, 4ish cups of flour, etc.) and Ruhlman’s 5:3 ratio, give or take a few ounces (20 oz flour, 12-14 oz warm water, yeast, salt, olive oil). Since mom’s recipe has always been by volume, I have no idea how close the two are. I added some honey to the dough and also included 4 oz of spelt flour into the mix.

We had the meatballs a while back with spaghetti, and I don’t have a recipe for them. Like most of the meatloaf I make, it just comes together (see my post on Caribou Meatballs for the basic process). A few pounds of ground beef, chopped onions, bread crumbs, ketchup, mustard, milk, egg, garlic powder, fresh parsley, dried oregano, and a few crushed fennel seeds. They make one of my favorite pizza toppings, and not a bad Saturday night dinner either.

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Post-New Year’s Meat Brunch

new years meat brunch

Hard to beat Eric’s caption from his facebook post: “Dark and stormy, Scotch eggs, scrapple, fried pig ears, bacon jam, biscuits and pie. How’s your Thursday morning been?”

This was no New Year’s Resolution Health Brunch, as you can see. No kale and flax smoothies, no dry toast. There was a berry pie, and that’s about as close as we came to vegetables. We resolve to get together to cook real food, from scratch, and to raise a glass or two among friends. By that measure I think 2013 is off to a great start! Continue reading

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A Little Holiday Cider

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Another batch of cider, also based off the original Paupered Chef guidelines from a few years ago, this time with Lalvin yeast 71-B 1122. We’ll see how it goes.

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The Vinegar Project

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Why haven’t I made this at home before? This is one of those food projects that have been a long time in the planning stages, one of those projects where I’ve been thinking, “You know, I should definitely do that.” It doesn’t sound terribly hard. It’s not fear of failure or expense (factors that that keep me from trying more adventurous dry curing projects). It’s just that I haven’t ever gotten around to it. I mean, it’s sour wine. Wine doesn’t often sit around here for long enough to sour, but it occasionally does. And after good friends of ours got married in October, and ended up with quite a few opened bottles of wine that they were happy to share, it was as good a time as any to try this whole process out.  Continue reading

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